Country folk don’t speak the Queen’s English, but are very resourceful
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Dear Editor,

GLOBALLY, we live in grim times: The pandemic, climate change, ecological disasters, rising geopolitical tension, economic meltdowns, poverty, wars, drugs, violent crime, etc. Still, I hope that there is time (and space) for some weekend levity.

Say what you will about former President Forbes Burnham, he had a sense of humour. Burnham once told my father a joke; it went like this: In the colonial era (or was it shortly after Independence?) there was a Chief Justice who liked his ‘sauce’. Purely as a descriptive label, he was ‘high coloured’.

Once, the CJ was travelling to Berbice to try cases. As befitting his high office, he and his entourage had an entire carriage on the train to themselves. At their service was an Indian gentleman from ‘the country’. Let’s call him Singh. In the carriage, Singh functioned as a butler of sorts. As the train rolled along, the CJ and his party imbibed; liquor flowed like water. From time to time, the CJ would say to Singh, “Bring more ice!” After several trips to bring ice to the now inebriated Chief Justice, Singh said to him, “Sah, we running out of ice.”

The CJ became angry and snapped, “I said bring more ice!” Singh complied. After a few more trips, the CJ again said to Singh, “Bring more ice!” Singh paused briefly, looked at the CJ, raised his voice and said, “SAH! IF AH BRING MO ICE, THE DEAD GWINE SPOIL!” The colour drained from the CJ’s face; and he stopped drinking immediately.

One of the morals of this story is that rural folk should not be underestimated; they may not speak the Queen’s English, but they are very resourceful.

Yours faithfully,
Sieyf Shahabuddeen

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